REVIEW: This play changed my perceptions about amateur productions

Madame Arcati played by Mandie Collier
Madame Arcati played by Mandie Collier
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Blithe Spirit, by St Nicolas Players, at the South Holland Centre, Spalding on Thursday, March 17

From the first moment, taking our seats amongst quite a small audience, I wondered that perhaps we were late. A maid was on stage tidying and moving the props. I quickly realised this was a preamble to the show starting and thought it was a very clever idea, one which I had not seen before.

What a lovely young actress (Emily Deans) who worked hard all through the play changing the scenes as there were no curtains at all.

The set was lovely, 
I really liked the attention to detail, the authentic furniture, old pictures, a working gramophone and wall lights. Such attention to detail I would have only expected from a professional production.I felt like I was sitting in the room with the Condomines.

I particularly liked the effect of having Elvira appear in the mirror and when she finally appeared on stage in that wonderful dress I could tell that Amber Sinclair was a talented actress as she took this rather small role and loaded her part with movement, facial expressions and posture which I felt was evocative of a women of the time.

Madame Arcati was really well perceived. The costumes were just right, but also her use of accent and the way she spoke her lines really made me believe in the character. I laughed out loud several times just at some of the looks Mandie Collier gave other characters and at her movements. I really think she was having a great time on stage.

The Condomines and The Bradmans were also played very well. Ruth and Mrs Bradman were well cast and with clever use of costume changes you were able to get the 1940s feel.

I think the chemistry between the actors was evident and although the second half was not as well paced as the first half there were plenty of comic moments and I was entertained from first to last.

I was really impressed with the floating table and really couldn’t see the wires and how did all the furniture and pictures move about on their own? Very clever. The final destruction of the set was good fun and the music, from Noel Coward himself, accompanying the show, enhanced the action. I was tempted to sing along to some of the songs.

This really made me think again about supporting more amateur groups. I had no idea it was going to be so good and at such a lovely, friendly venue too.